Author Topic: Britain's shrinking new home gardens  (Read 3498 times)

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Britain's shrinking new home gardens
« on: August 23, 2017, 10:06:52 am »
Gardens in Britain are continuously changing

British gardens have been undoubtedly shrinking over the years. Homes today have halved in size compared to those built in 1920, and the average British garden has shrunk from 168 sqm to just 163.2 sqm between 1983 and 2013.

By 2020, it has been predicted that around 10.5% of homes will not have a garden, this is backed up by the fact more than two million UK homes currently do not have any private garden to call their own. This is not good news in light of research suggesting children with no access to gardens are 38% more likely to become obese!

Not only has the size of UK gardens changed but also the entire approach to gardening in the UK has shifted as different materials have come into usage – from synthetic living spaces such as decking to actual gardening tools like fertiliser, which was originally organic. Some of the first things to change being:
•   Plant pots: Originally made from clay, pots are now generally plastic or biodegradable.
•   Fertiliser: Once, fertiliser was entirely organic. However, chemicals have now been developed to serve as fertiliser – although many gardeners prefer organics.
•   Lawn mowers: Originally, grass cutting relied on a manual process. Early machinery was developed in the 1900s which saw early versions of cylinder mowers powered by pushing. Now, electric-powered motors mean gardens are far easier to maintain.
•   Materials: Gardening still employs the same basic materials it always did: stone, clay, timber and soil. Now, however, we use plastic, concrete and stainless steel – which was invented in 1913.

The way that we use our gardens has completely changed too. During WW2, gardens became areas for growing food to supplement rationing, but also an area of refuge for those who’d build their own bomb shelters. In the 1950's, gardeners shrugged this sensibility off and focus shifted towards ornamentation and decoration, placing more attention on manicured lawns and neatly trimmed shrubs.
Although, a renewed focus on climate change and healthy eating has also meant more people are aiming to create sustainable gardens with minimal harm to the environment, using recycled materials in everything from plant pots to composite decking.

The amount of garden centres heightened between the late 1950s and early 1960s with the first one opening in Dorset. This changed the way British gardeners cultivated plants. This widespread availability of plants meant heathers, conifers and bedding plants became popular.

The counterculture movement of the 70s put more attention on using our gardens to become more self-sufficient. Colour TV's invention also saw the widespread airing of gardening programmes.
A rise in recreation to our gardens became more common in the 80s. By the 90s, this movement became more about the 'makeover' – with many people installing decking as a fast, affordable way to create a living space in their gardens.

The internet became more popular during the 2000s, and has definitely changed the way gardeners can access certain things. Now, information about growing and cultivating your own plants is everywhere, accessible through mobiles, desktops and tablets.

However, with garden spaces shrinking, how do we use the new materials and information available to get as much as we can from our gardens?
With new materials and information being so accessible, how can we use this and be beneficial to gardens that are shrinking?

For some, this means studying guides online and creating their own DIY fruit and vegetable gardens. For others, it means creating as much living space as they can in their shrinking gardens.

Author sources
•   Daily Mail
•   Daily Telegraph
•   BBC News